Rainfinity virtualises NAS servers

LONDON (03/04/2004) - Rainfinity Inc. has added automation capabilities to its RainStorage NAS management appliance, allowing it to plug into SRM (storage resource management) tools.

Called GridSwitch, the addition means that an SRM tool can use RainStorage to move data volumes from one NAS server to another, as the first one fills up or slows down due to overloading, without the users begin made aware.

Once a volume has been moved, it remains available (and synchronized) in both old and new locations until all the relevant clients have updated their mappings to the new location. GridSwitch makes this process transparent by tracking the remapping process and automatically dropping the original copy once it is complete.

The technology in effect virtualises NAS servers, allowing them to be part of an Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) strategy, according to Dr Chenggong Charles Fan, Rainfinity's cofounder and CTO.

"I think there's a huge market opportunity on file-level storage. People liked NAS because of its simplicity, but then storage started to grow and filers became islands. There has been a demand for virtualization of the NAS filer for a while," he says.

"GridSwitch is automatic data movement for capacity provisioning and storage management. RainStorage is user-initiated, GridSwitch automates the process and allows it to integrate with SRM."

Fan says that Rainfinity already works with several other companies to move NAS data as part of an ILM strategy, including Network Appliance Inc. and CreekPath Systems Inc. "I think the reason ILM is not happening is the lack of tools to do transparent data management," he adds. "They can tell you what to move but there's no mechanism to actually do it."

The Yankee Group analyst Jamie Gruener agrees: "Data movement without network disruption is a key building block for ILM," he says. It's really about data access -- data cannot be moved unless it's accessible 24 by 7, and management cannot be considered automated if the first step is to negotiate user and application downtime."

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